I Wonder Who Was Praying for Caesar?
Probably not. But God put Caesar Augustus in place to facilitate the birth of Jesus.
According to Wikipedia: "The reign of Augustus initiated an era of relative peace known as the Pax Romana (The Roman Peace). The Roman world was largely free from large-scale conflict for more than two centuries, despite continuous wars of imperial expansion on the Empire's frontiers and one year-long civil war over the imperial succession. Augustus dramatically enlarged the Empire, annexing Egypt, Dalmatia, Pannonia, Noricum, and Raetia; expanding possessions in Africa; expanding into Germania; and completing the conquest of Hispania...He reformed the Roman system of taxation, developed networks of roads with an official courier system, established a standing army, established the Praetorian Guard, created official police and fire-fighting services for Rome, and rebuilt much of the city during his reign."
Palestine was ready. The boot of the Romans was heavy, and resented by the Jews. But it also made it easier for the events surrounding the birth of Christ to unfold as they did. Luke 2:1, 3, 4 gives us more detail: "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world...And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David."
I suppose someone had to pay for all those new roads so finding out just how many taxpayers were out there was an important task. Little did Caesar know how important his decree was to the story that was developing.
The Scriptures are full of examples of pagan rulers doing astonishing things that ended up contributing to the advance of God's purposes. The prophecy said that Bethlehem would be the place of the Messiah's birth: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times" (Micah 5:2).
What is curious to me is that God could easily have sent Gabriel to Joseph and told the man to take Mary to Bethlehem because that's where they all needed to be in advance of the birth of Jesus. But instead God chose to work in the life of a pagan dictator to plant in his mind the need to call for a census that would take Joseph and Mary to the city of David.
I wonder what else God was doing in Caesar's life?
You see, God is at work in people and places that we might consider untouchable and unassailable. We might never know how He is working. Sometimes we see the results, as in the case of Caesar's decree. But He IS working. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us, "...He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." He even cares about Roman despots.
I suppose that not too many Jews prayed for Caesar to come to faith in Yahweh. They more than likely prayed that God would strike him and his kind dead so that they could crawl out from under the Roman boot. But God was working in the man—the timing of his decree is evidence of that.
Paul writes this to Timothy: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority...This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
We just never know how God might be working in those who rule over us, so we need to pray for them. But perhaps one more step might be good: Send a Christmas card to the PM, or the President, or your mayor, telling him or her that you are praying for them. You just never know what God might do as a result.